articles | 30 April 2020

COVID19: Cypriots turn to cards not cash

Cypriot consumers are increasingly turning to credit cards rather than traditional cash payments for their daily needs as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic, data shows.

According to data given to CNA by JCC, use of credit or debit cards in supermarkets rose by 31% from March 17 to April 26 compared with the same period of last year, limiting the reduction in overall credit card usage for the period to 10% amid the lockdown.

Furthermore, the usage of credit cards in kiosks, where Cypriots traditionally use cash, spiked by 93% compared with the same period of last year.

Some kiosks did not accept credit cards before the COVID-19 outbreak but have had to change policy after advice the virus could be transmitted through handling paper money.

Aris Kourris, JCC’s Chief Operating Officer, said the rise in card usage in supermarkets comes as many customers turned from cash to credit cards due to calls to use plastic money as opposed to cash in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Procedures implemented by commercial banks also made the issuance of cards easier while the credit limit for contactless payments rose to €50.

Credit cards used for payments to government rose as public services enabled online payments for social insurance.

“We see a tendency by corporations towards e-trade, with a lot of companies making available internet payments to consumers.”

He said that JCC Smart payments are increasingly used by companies for e-payments.

“These consumer habits are expected to remain.”

Kourris said the increase of transaction value for contactless credit card transactions, without a pin number, from €20 to €50 also boosted credit card usage in places where consumers used to use cash such as kiosks.

The overall value of transactions from March 17 – April 26 declined by 10% compared with the same period last year, while the number of transactions declined by 19%.

Card usage in retail shops, the majority of which have closed due to the lockdown from mid-March, plunged by 95% compared with 2019, while card usage in restaurants marked a steep decline of 91% and by 94% for travel purposes.

During the Cyprus lockdown, all non-essential businesses were closed while Cypriots had to stay home.

Cypriot credit or debit cards abroad also declined by 38% in value for the period of March 17 to April 26 from an increase of 3% in the first quarter.

The volume of transactions abroad declined by 31% on March 17 to April 26 year on year.

Moreover, the use of foreign credit cards in Cyprus declined by 76% in value and by 74% in volume compared with a reduction of 10% and 1% respectively in the first quarter of 2020.

Lockdown measures included restricted entry for Cyprus residents only and then a commercial flight ban from March 21.

Source: Financial Mirror

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